Techways

The gap for cutting edge IT education in our high schools

Joanne Brink

Joanne Brink

Managing Director, Parent

As a parent myself – and having worked with many new university or college graduates – I see first-hand how important it is to give young people the opportunities to build their skills portfolio through practical experience.

It’s too late to wait until after graduation to start gaining hands-on experience. Too many junior candidates are book smart, but don’t have the practical skills and real-project experience that employers are looking for. It needs to start in our high schools.

Without this help, they’ll end up in the entry-level Catch-22 situation of no experience/no-one willing to give them experience. And struggle to find jobs in a marketplace crying out for ICT talent.

Of the Top 10 skills most in demand by South African employers, but hardest to source locally, ICT ranks second. Most sought after are IT application developers (11%), data analysts (10%), data scientists (9%), software developers (9%) and software engineers (8%).

Putting this into hard numbers, the Department of Labour’s Critical Skills list published in Nov 2020, estimates a shortage of 432 100 skilled ICT technicians, 216 200 managers and 178 400 professionals. 

Tech employers/entrepreneurs – such as Jason Suttie of Devson and Dave Prosser of ComUnity – confirm this acute market shortage of good, home-grown developer talent. 

“I would rather take a young, bright mind straight from high school,” Dave says, “who can show me what they can code and is hungry to learn. Then I can mold them to do the job I need.” 

The problem here, however, is that there are many gaps in the cutting-edge technology education offered by high schools.

Talking with students I’ve found that they’re totally enthralled with everything tech. They’ve grown up with it and they know that it’s the future. But they don’t always know what different career pathways there are in tech – it’s a big black hole to them. 

Equally, IT teacher Sam Perry of Marist Brothers Linmeyer shares that because she’s teaching and not working in the industry she doesn’t always know what cutting edge skills are required for many of the up-and-coming career pathways out there. 

There are some amazing block based coding programmes such as Scratch Jnr and Tynker, which give primary school kids great exposure to the concepts of programming. 

 

But then, in Grades 8-9, many learners lose interest in IT as the curriulum focuses on using MS-Office applications such as Word and Excel with little (if any) opportunity for creating or coding. ‘Proper’ IT only starts in Grade 10 and even then it may not produce the kind of talent and skills needed in the South African workplace.

As Grade 12 student Grant Booysen of Northcliff High shares, “I know how tough it is in the job market – all I want is to find opportunities that can build towards my CV”. 

The National Department of Basic Education is rolling out a coding and robotics curriculum, but in the meantime there are gaps – for Grades 8-9 especially – which await implementation.

How can we, as parents, bridge these gaps? 

There’s no reason why high schoolers need to wait until they matriculate to start building their portfolio of skills and projects that can be showcased to future employers such as Jason and Dave. 

Imagine your kids building their own website, or mobile app, coding it from scratch. The confidence and sense of achievement and pride they will gain as well as the actual skills: time management, creativity, problem solving and, of course, coding. 

 

As knowledge workers of the future, they need to be able to learn on the job, as they build the solutions and fix the problems.  

Our children have tremendous untapped potential – let’s give them every opportunity we can to showcase their talents as early as possible.

*************************************

Techways gives high school learners a window to the world of technology in a way that is accessible, affordable and gives them relevant skills for what the market needs. Let them build their own website, mobile app or ‘from scratch’ game – by the time our high school learners matriculate they will have a portfolio of real-project experience and certifications to be proud of! www.techways.online

Share this post

Pain Points – specific problems that prospective customers of your business are experiencing. In other words, you can think of pain points as problems, plain and simple.

 A User – is any person that interacts (by inputs) with a program without having to write the code directly. For example, you are the user to the code that makes your browser/website run. When you clicked on this pop-up, that was the input that made this explanation come up when the code detected it.

To book your spot – click here

All learners who are aspiring web developers will have an opportunity to build a website for a live NGO or charity client as part of their community service hours. This project will be run jointly with Community Hours – so all your time spent counts towards your LO credits. This event is suitable for learners, parents and their teachers.

TechWays will be providing the WordPress course and web dev resources for free to any learner wanting to participate. 

Besides the amazing community service you’ll be doing for a charity in need – you’ll also be building your portfolio of web dev skills. Who knows – web dev could become a side hustle for extra income?

Book your spot HERE

Indentation – In the written form of many languages, an indentation or indent is an empty space at the beginning of a line to signal the start of a new paragraph.

Text editor – is the part of the IDE where you write the code. Most text editors highlight words with different properties like functions to help you distinguish them from one another. 

Homogeneous – of the same kind; alike throughout.

Heterogeneous – diverse in character or content; containing different things

Prompt – to  cause or bring about; to make something happen. For example making someone to say or write something.

Troubleshooting is a form of problem solving, often applied to repair failed products or processes on a machine or a system. It is a logical, systematic search for the source of a problem in order to solve it, and make the product or process operational again.

String Built-in Functions/Methods

There are a lot of strings functions/methods in Python. Find full list in course manual. Here’s are some that you find useful in this course:

Functions

  • len(varName) – Returns the length of a list, string
  • join(varName) – Converts the elements of an iterable into a string.

Methods 

  • varName.capitalize() – Converts the first character to upper case.
  • varName.center(length) – Returns a centered string
  • varName.count(“?”) – Returns the number of times a specified value (?) occurs in a string (varName).
  • varName.endswith(“?”) – Returns true if the string ends with the specified value.
  • varName.find(“?”) – Searches the string for a specified value and returns the position of where it was found.
  • varName.format(placeholder = value) – Formats specified values in a string.
  • varName.index(“?”) – Searches the string for a specified value and returns the position of where it was found.
  • varName.isalnum() – Returns True if all characters in the string are alphanumeric.
  • varName.isalpha() – Returns True if all characters in the string are in the alphabet.
  • varName.isascii() – Returns True if all characters in the string are ascii characters.
  • varName.isdecimal() – Returns True if all characters in the string are decimals.
  • varName.isdigit() – Returns True if all characters in the string are digits.
  • varName.isidentifier() – Returns True if the string is an identifier.
  • varName.islower() – Returns True if all characters in the string are lower case.
  • varName.isupper() – Returns True if all characters in the string are upper case.
  • varName.isnumeric() – Returns True if all characters in the string are numeric.
  • varName.isprintable() – Returns True if all characters in the string are printable.
  • varName.isspace() – Returns True if all characters in the string are whitespaces.
  • varName.istitle() – Returns True if the string follows the rules of a title.
  • varName.ljust(value) – Returns a left justified version of the string.
  • varName.rjust() Returns a right justified version of the string.
  • varName.lower() – Converts a string into lower case.
  • varName.upper() – Converts a string into upper case.
  • varName.strip() – Returns a trimmed version of the string.
  • varName.lstrip() – Returns a left trim version of the string.
  • varName.rstrip() Returns a right trim version of the string.
  • varName.partition() – Returns a tuple where the string is parted into three parts.
  • varName.replace(“old”, “new”) – Returns a string where a specified value is replaced with a specified value.
  • varName.rfind() – Searches the string for a specified value and returns the last position of where it was found.
  • varName.rindex() – Searches the string for a specified value and returns the last position of where it was found.
  • varName.rpartition() – Returns a tuple where the string is parted into three parts.
  • varName.rsplit() – Splits the string at the specified separator, and returns a list.
  • varName.split() – Splits the string at the specified separator, and returns a list.
  • varName.splitlines() – Splits the string at line breaks and returns a list.
  • varName.startswith() – Returns true if the string starts with the specified value.
  • varName.swapcase() – Swaps cases, lower case becomes upper case and vice versa.

String Special Characters

There a number of special string characters that have different functions when used inside ” “. Here’re some useful and common ones:

  • \n – Newline – Everything after it goes to next line.
  • \t – Horizontal tab – creates a tab space, similar to when you use ‘tab’ on keyboard.
  • \b – backspace – deletes the character before the it.
  • \r – carriage return – same as \n

In programming Concatenation is a process of appending one string to another. 

\ – escape character is a string character that tell Python that the next character after it should be taken as a string and not as an instruction.

str ( ) is a built-in function that converts and sequence of characters (numbers especially) in to text. 

Mad Libs is a phrasal template word game created by Leonard Stern and Roger Price. It consists of one player prompting others for a list of words to substitute for blanks in a story before reading aloud.

type ( ) is a built-in function (still to cover what built-in functions are later) that determines the Data Type of any data presented. 

input ( ) is a built-in function (still to cover what built-in functions are later) allows a user to insert info into a program/the code. 

print ( ) is a built-in function (still to cover what built-in functions are later) that executes data inside the brackets. The results get printed out on the console/results section.

Integrated Development Environment – A digital environment used to develop games, software, hardware, that offers integration from debugging to compiling. 

Variables

More about variables

Info about variables

To book your spot – click here

#WOW – What Outstanding Work – Awards: join us to learn from our students. 

Our top 20 learners are from St Andrews for Girls, Reddam Umhlanga, Evolve Online, Nova Pioneer and Sutherland High

Learners will be presenting their final projects. Come celebrate their successes and lessons learnt with us at our TechWays #WOW Awards.

This event is suitable for learners, parents and their teachers. Book your spot HERE

To book your spot – click here

 

Calling on all high schoolers interested in tech as a career. Join us on Thursday 22 September at 5:30pm.

 

We will be sharing:

  • Some “hot button/in-demand” career pathways – including Automation
  • the skills needed to access these careers
  • some of the job realities in these careers

There are only 100 spaces – so book your spot now – please RSVP here Book

To access the recording – click here

Calling on all high schoolers interested in tech as a career to join us on 16 September at 5:30pm. If you missed it, we’ll host another one on 18 November. 

We covered the following:

  • general tech career tips
  • a few “hot button/in-demand” career pathways and jobs
  • the skills needed to access these careers
  • some of the job realities in these careers

To access the recording – click here

To book your spot – click here

We will be talking to Noelene Kinsley from GC Network. Noelene has been specialised in the exciting career of Genetic Counseling and wants to share her passion for making the world a healthier place using genetics….and data science technology. 

Let’s hear more about the trends in the health/genetics industries, where jobs are moving to and what kind of skills you’ll need in this exciting world of opportunities out there. 

This event is suitable for learners, parents and their teachers. Book your spot HERE

To book your spot – click here

We will be talking to Jason Suttie from Devson. Jason has been in the tech world since he was six years old. He headed IT innovation unit at RMB and has since left to start up his own software consulting company – solving problems and building solutions for clients around the world. 

Let’s hear more about the trends in the software and programming industries, where jobs are moving to and what kind of skills you’ll need in this exciting world of opportunities out there. 

Book your spot HERE

Linux Essentials

Introduces Linux as an operating system, the basic open source concepts and an understanding of the Linux commands. Linux is crucial for cybersecurity.

Comptia
Security+

Gives you the baseline skills you need to secure a company’s systems, software and hardware. This certificate gives practical hands-on skills to pursue a career in cyber security

Certified Ethical Hacker

Will give you skills in Information Security Threats and Attack Vectors, Attack Detection, Attack Prevention, Procedures, Methodologies and more.